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Recaptured!: 79. Quartet
Merry sat patiently in Shelob's stinking lair, cradling Pippin's head and stroking his face, waiting for his brave little cousin to come round. The first indication he had that Pippin might be stirring was a dull throb in his own right foot and another deep, somewhat disconcerting, ache that seemed to start in his belly. It was not hunger exactly but it felt like a frantic need for something, similar to the urge to smoke some pipeweed, only this was more desperate, more compelling.
'hurt foots i…'
'i knowed…poor my pip…'
Merry could feel Pippin trembling with hurt and anxiety both in his mind and his body. He would not have blamed the bravest warrior for leaving him to his fate at the jaws of the monster, but little Pip, his brave little Pip, had battled the hideous killer and, against all the odds, won through. Merry felt a quiver run through his frame at the thought of what had happened – what Pip had faced to save him. The love he felt for his cousin, the love they felt for each other, made up for all the agony, pain and fear they had endured.
'you got some poppy left?'
'you knowed i not…'
'not i too got some…'
Merry rocked Pippin gently, giving the only physical comfort he could manage for the moment, that and stroking Pippin's face. As his fingers danced over his cousin's lips, Pip caught Merry's finger with his hand and pushed it into his mouth and sucked it. Merry didn't withdraw the finger, as the sucking seemed to make Pip feel a bit better. A memory belonging to Pip flickered across Merry's mind of Aragorn feeding Pip poppy paste on his finger.
'need i got ache… have poppy soon… have now…'
'please not think it pip…we not got some.. i go feel you hurted foots…'
Merry pulled his finger out now and placed it for a second on Pippin's lips, then replaced the digit with a kiss. As gently as he could, he felt down Pippin's body until he came to the damaged foot, He could tell which it was from the piercing ache in his own right foot. Probing with his fingers Merry could feel that the bone was not quite right, possibly even broken. What was he to do? Bandage it? No that probably was wrong. He felt so helpless not knowing. Didn't broken bones have to be set or something? What had Aragorn done with Pippin's wrist? That had been broken. But he was not there when they mended it. Legolas was, perhaps Legolas would know.
'legolas? legolas? you go help we?''
'Of course Merry. What is it little one?'
'think pip go breaked he foots… what i do? i not know how mend he…'
Merry noticed even as he called to the elf that Pippin was unconscious again. The pain in his foot had subsided as had the ache in his belly, whatever that was – perhaps Pip was very hungry, although the ache did not feel like hunger exactly. No it must be the poppy paste, Aragorn had said it was addictive and very bad for him. He leaned forward anxiously to listen to the gentle breathing, it seemed regular. Merry sighed with relief, but then thought what if Pip is hurt inside, he would not know. He felt more comfortable about Pip when he was awake, but that was only for his own comfort – Pippin probably needed to sleep.
'I'm not certain Merry, I'm sure we can help, don't worry, I'll ask Éowyn.'
Legolas continued sitting on the ground, Éowyn had now removed her "pregnancy" and was intently watching Legolas, whilst talking with Captain Faramir. "Éowyn, can you help?" Legolas immediately had the attention of both, "Merry thinks Pip's foot may be broken and, from the pain of it, I agree. What should he do?"
"Oh dear, poor little Pippin." Éowyn shook her head sadly. "He has suffered so much already. What Merry must first do is establish exactly what is wrong with the foot."
"How can Merry do that?" Legolas shrugged. "Pippin is unconscious at the moment, I can feel that."
"Are you able to feel what Merry feels with your hands?" she asked.
"I feel their pain quite easily now." Legolas agreed. "I could probably feel Pip's foot if we both concentrated very hard."
"Pardon my intrusion." Faramir was too intrigued by this exchange to keep silent any longer. "What are you talking about? How can you feel the halfling's pain? How do you know what is happening to them?"
"It is a long story." Legolas sighed a little. "Elves have the ability to speak to others through their minds, without the use of speech. Pippin became deaf and unable to speak and I linked to him so frequently that our minds became permanently joined. Then Merry, his kinsman, who has been struck blind, linked to him through me also and the three of us became entangled in our heads. We can speak with each other at any time, no matter where we are. And now the halflings, I think because of the close bond between them, can speak to each other without me."
"A very useful gift, I should think," observed Faramir. "But how will you help them now?"
"Will you be able to discern through the link if Pippin's foot is indeed broken?" Éowyn asked. "Would you know the symptoms?"
"I am not certain that I would." Legolas admitted. "Would you?"
"Yes and I would know how to treat it." Éowyn said, she had been studying the physics of healing for some time now.
"There is a possibility that I could link with you mentally and through me you could guide Merry." Legolas suggested. "We have managed such a connection with Gandalf before, although of course his wizard's mind is quite difficult to handle as it is so powerful."
"I would be willing to try, if it helps the halflings." Éowyn offered. "If you think it will be possible."
"I see no reason why it would not work." Legolas said, "But I warn you, you will also feel the pain of it. Pippin is in considerable agony and when you treat it you will feel everything he feels, as will all of us in the mind link."
"I would not blanch from such pain." Éowyn assured him. "If the little one can stand it, and you and Merry, I am sure I am equal to the same."
"Also, the more pain we can absorb, the more it takes it away from the little ones." Legolas explained. "Although that is more difficult to do, but I will cushion as much of the hurt from you as I can."
"Can I help in any way" Faramir was fascinated with this situation and, as well as being eager to assist, he wanted to learn more of the elf's powers.
"You can assist us by having our horses taken care of," Legolas indicated Arod and Windfola. "Also it would help if you stood watch over us while we speak with the halflings. If you see the Lady Éowyn in undue distress, you could try to break the link."
"Very well." Faramir indicated to some of his men to take care of the horses. "We will set up camp here and I will ensure you are safe while you care for your friends."
'legolas? legolas? you go say i things…'
'Yes Merry, I'm here.'
Legolas would not say it, but he realised the hobbit was probably feeling very scared and vulnerable. He had seen the place where they were and so had Merry, through Pip's eyes. Now Merry could not even see and Pip was injured and lying unconscious in his lap. Added to which, Merry himself was exhausted, his head wound was still throbbing and various bruises and hurts were clamouring for attention, although slightly subdued by the shock he was still suffering following the battle with Shelob.
Indeed, although he would not mention it, while Legolas and Éowyn had been discussing their strategy, Merry had felt very miserable and more than a little afraid, not just for himself but mostly for Pip. Poor Pip had been through so much since they had been captured by the orcs and now he lay unconscious and probably unable to walk in this stinking den filled with rotting corpses, Merry was on the edge of despair wondering how they were going to come out of this frightening predicament. He didn't even know how to treat Pip's foot, the best he could offer would be to kiss it better.
'Merry, someone else is here in my/our heads to help you. The Lady Éowyn is going to try and show you what to do to help Pip.'
'e-ow?' m-lad-dad-di?' Merry stumbled over the tricky name and form of address.
'e-ow is good for to call me, Merry'
Legolas smiled at the way Rohirrim speech translated into mindspeak, it was quite different than anything he had heard before.
'what i do at pip, e-ow?'
'First Merry,' Legolas put in, 'you must think very hard about what you touch with your hand. So hard that Éowyn and I can feel it too.'
'Take your hand at foot' Éowyn said, 'and gentle touch across top of foot.'
'good is – I do feel.'
'I think is only small broken ' Éowyn decided, 'perhaps little break, but bone moved at place wrong Is what makes bad hurt.'
'what i do?'
'Need pull bone to place right.' Éowyn knew this was going to be difficult. 'Have a thing you to bind with after 'tis done?'
'got shirt can tear at…'
'Good – and a thing small and straight – stick make splint with?'
Merry thought for a moment. 'got flute!' he suddenly remembered.
'That perfect be.' Éowyn shook her head a little at the odd way her words sounded echoing back at her in the mind link, it seemed impossible to formulate sentences in the normal way. 'Tear shirt strips now, make one inch wide about make ten inch long - can do that?'
'Merry, will have need to waken Pippin.' Éowyn knew this was not going to be easy, 'will have need to help you.'
'Must. Need pull on foot hard, but he must hold a thing which is fixed tight, so not move. So make counter pressure - pull bone right place.'
'not wants i hurts pip! please not!'
'Be brave Merry.' Legolas sent quickly. 'You have already shown heroism that no one might think possible, both you and Pippin are valiant beyond measure. Now you must steel yourself just a little longer to do this thing.'
'but it pip!'
'I know Merry, but it is for Pippin's good that you must do this.'
'must hurt he 'gain? got i hurt he 'gain?'
'Will quick be if you do with most care.' Éowyn assured him. 'Are tear strips now?'
'are, am make ten pieces…'
'Enough probably,' Éowyn told him. 'Now need you awaken Pippin.'
'pip! pip! got go waked now.' Both Éowyn and Legolas could feel Merry patting Pippin's cheeks, the link was still focussed on letting all the participants be aware of touch. As the smaller hobbit began to stir, the other three also became aware of the aching throb in Pippin's foot, as well as a general sense of need that was most unpleasant. The feeling sent shivers down Éowyn's spine and made Legolas feel twitchy and uncomfortable.
'mer? where i go at? why i go big hurts?
'you go breaked foots my pip… we got go mends it now.'
'how you go mends it mer?'
'got bandage, got legolas, got e-ow… go mends you good now…'
'Pippin? We not speak before, but you seen at Edoras.'
'oh – e-ow!' Pippin was a little abashed and shy to suddenly find the kind golden-haired lady in his head. Éowyn felt his confusion and decided to treat it in a matter of fact way to spare his embarrassment.
'Pippin can a thing nearby be strong for you hold tight? Merry need pull bone in foot straight and you need hold a thing not moving.'
'not can see much…it go too dark… is big rock… not get arms round tho…'
'is a thing you can put round of rock hold on?'
'got rope… got elven rope of frodosam…'
'frodosam? what did you…Never mind, tell me later.' Legolas had not been with the hobbits for fear of the Wraith when they had met with their cousin and his gardener. Later there had been no time to tell the elf of their encounter, so he was taken aback to hear their names mentioned. But there was no time to ask about it now, Pip's injury was more vital.
'Good, Merry can get rope around of rock?'
'can… got be littlel while at do…' Merry felt for the rope around Pippin's waist and, carefully sitting Pip up, managed to untie and then unwind it.
'You be most brave again. Pull foot make it better, but will hurt much first.'
'oh! got must do?'
'Be brave again my little one.' Legolas was always gentle with Pippin. 'We will find you soon, then you can rest and not have any more pain.'
'and eat lot?'
'As much as you want.'
'and sleep lot?'
'All day if you choose.'
'legolas, am need it now… need it much… much!' Pippin gave a mental sob and Legolas suddenly realised what the frantic ache in his belly was caused by. He spoke to Éowyn out loud.
"Éowyn, Pippin is suffering severely from opium withdrawal. He was being fed it in Mordor by one of the orcs and now he has been without it for too long and it is beginning to tell."
"This is dire news indeed," she agreed. "The torment of lacking the narcotic he has grown so accustomed to will be more painful than his foot I think, but I have no cure for that. Nevertheless I will try to help as best I can."
'pip? not go be sad at no poppy…'
'i not helped it mer – hic – hurts i much, much… it so hurtings… need…need'
'i knowed pip… hurtings i… feel… feel want it… you wants it – huuh – hic…' Both the hobbits were giving occasional small sobs now that sounded like hiccups in the mind link.
As Legolas and Éowyn returned their attention to the halflings their pain washed over them like a tidal wave. Merry was drained and exhausted with both physical and mental anguish, his body ached all over and he was sobbing involuntarily now. Pippin was almost beyond solace; his agony from the opium need was indeed more devastating than the white fire pain in his foot and behind both of their minds was the thought of the terrifying journey still ahead of them and all the time they were still pursued by the wraith. Merry realised with a sinking feeling that if Pippin was unconscious and had to be carried, he would not even know which way to go. They were both close to giving up.
'hic – mmurr - huuh?'
'Take breath deep - hold tightly inside.' Éowyn could feel all three breathe in at her suggestion, although Pippin was still sobbing slightly. 'Hold breath - next let go while count back. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five…'
'breaths is goned now…'
'Was good Pippin, now do again - make counting until e-ow say stop. Will do this?'
'try – sob… huuuuuuh… tens, nines, eights….'
As Pippin counted Éowyn spoke to Merry again. 'Is rope tied rock yet?'
'is…sob – huuh…'
'Merry, can tie Pippin's hands with rope on rock? He must move not when pull.'
'not tie… not hurt at pip 'gain… sob… sob'
'Don't cry Merry'. Legolas felt an terrible lurch in his heart at the halflings' anguish, 'I can feel your pain, but feel my arm around you and my lips on your brow. I am sending you a little more strength in my kiss.'
Legolas would have liked to comfort both the hobbits with a little extra of his own psyche, but he knew that Merry would need it more right now if they were both to survive. As Merry felt the elf's arm squeeze round his quivering shoulders he was aware of the kiss on his forehead and extra strength running into his body.
'will tie…' Merry was not too happy at this but obediently bound Pippin's wrists with the elven rope to the rock. He made a little bandage first from one of the strips to put round the left wrist to try and minimise any further damage in that area of his cousin's abused body.
'sevens… six… fives….sob… hic… huuuuuuh… tens… nines …ohh mer… what do at i?'
'got keep you tight when pull, pip… not mean hurts you…you go hold at rope too…not hurts you wrists then…'
'oh mer i scared more… gone hurts i big… not got home yet… not got poppy… huuh- huuh!' Pippin gave two more little breathless sobs.
'i knowed… i knowed… not cry pip…' Merry stroked Pippin's hair and kissed his brow. 'you goes sleeps soon bettrer then…i sorr and sorr i do, pip'
'it not fault yours mer…please not cry mer…'
'Merry? Ready now?' Éowyn knew the sooner it was done the sooner Pip could rest. 'Put some pieces bandage at Pippin's mouth for bite on. Make thick, thick.' Merry quickly did this, doubling the material over several times to make a bulky pad. 'Feel Pippin's foot with hand. When right place –tell you.'
Merry manoeuvred himself into a better position and took a firm hold on Pippin's arch with one hand and the heel of his foot with the other.
'Pip, my little one… dear heart… brave heart…' Legolas sent his arms now to rock the halfling as he had done when he first took care of him at Isengard. 'feel my arms…don't cry…don't be sad… you'll be safe soon.'
'legolas? i… i… sob… hic'
'Right place – now hold firm.' Merry held Pippin's foot strongly with all the confidence he could muster. He realised he had to get this right first time or cause Pip even more suffering. But as he felt the elf comforting Pippin it gave him strength at the same time.
'PULL!' Éowyn shouted in the link.
'FILTHLY CREATURES! I WILL HAVE YOU – KILL YOU – GET OUT NOW! GET OUT!'
'no! no! aaaaaaahhhgg! get not i! pulled now! aaaieeeeiee!'
'AIIIIIEEEE! Merr… noooo! aiiiieee nooo! it aaaiiiiieee!' and Pippin lost his senses.
"Aaiiiieeeee!" Merry screamed out loud at the same time as he and Pip screamed in the link. As he had pulled Pippin's foot the pain had reverberated into him as if it were his own agony. It only began to subside as Pip lost consciousness. The elf and the lady were gone, all the pain had been shared between the two hobbits.
Merry called out in a little mental whimper, 'e-ow? legolas? where you?'
'THEY HAVE DESERTED YOU HALFLING! NOW THERE IS ONLY YOUR MASTER LEFT – YOUR FATE. I SHALL HAVE YOU BOTH WHEN YOU TRY TO LEAVE MORDOR – I HAVE ALREADY SENT ORCS TO GUARD THE ONLY PASSAGE – THE ONLY WAY TO AVOID RECAPTURE IS TO STAY THERE IN THE CAVE AND ROT!'
Merry did not respond in the mental link, but laid his head down on Pippin's unconscious body, forgetting for the moment in his terror and exhaustion that he was supposed to bind the foot using his little flute as a splint. His remaining strength had left him, along with his resolve, his courage and his companions. He felt very sad and very alone. He wept and wept until he had no tears left.
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